(On April 15th Lacerated Enemy Records released a new album by the French band Hurakan, and DGR has given it the following review.)
Confession: I find the times when a band becomes a completely different group within the span of a few years fascinating. As if a giant, historical brainwipe happened and the group essentially had to rebuild themselves from the ground up and the only thing that remained was the name. Now, the band must define themselves again and make the name fit the band, not the band fit the name, as if to justify moving into the name of the group like a crab upgrading its shell – or in this case, insectoid font logo for an image more sharp and pointy – for something else.
French bruisers Hurakan are still a young-ish group, as we’re still at the point where a debut release only having come out five years ago doesn’t seem like that long. Yet Hurakan find themselves in an interesting position with their latest release Via Aeterna, which landed on April 13th, 2022. Subject to a pretty sizeable lineup shift in the three years between the release of 2019’s Abomination of Aurokos and their newest album, Hurakan are a different beast.
You get the sense that with the mostly single-word song titles and the single-minded focus on a more deathcore-oriented form of brutality, the Hurakan that wrote a song called “Slamming Brutal Shit” and dropped it right before the end of a sci-fi maelstrom of brutal death style album may have their eyes focused elsewhere. The question that rises with Via Aeterna, then, is just where are the band looking?
It probably can’t be overstated just how much the ‘low and slow’ approach has torn through the -core scene over the past handful of years, and on Via Aeterna Hurakan have decided to add themselves to that particular fight. While it seems like much of that scene is splitting off in three different directions – basically all united by some pig ignorant breakdowns – the sort of down-tempo chug-heavy crews seem to absorb the most from the guys who’ve been making headway in the stupidly brutal death scene.
Crossover and interbreeding is often expected and so it’s not shocking to see Hurakan become the latest monster to have gone through that particular metamorphosis. Playing a new game means moving to a new field of contemporaries though, so armed with a mostly changed-up lineup – including the vocalist from fellow French -core band Nakht – Hurakan enter the excessively blast-heavy and violent down-tempo fray.
If a song like “Void” is anything to go by, they should do pretty well in that aspect as well. When you’ve summoned vocalists from Brand Of Sacrifice and Humanity’s Last Breath to help out early on in the album (on opener “Imperium” and third song “Abyssal”), then you’ve made your new objective pretty clear.
There is a knowing sense in seeing that three of the lead-off singles to Via Aeterna were songs “Void”, “Umbra”, and “Asmodeus”. Those three are the most brutally efficienct songs on this release. The group had a series of checkpoints and objectives to hit within each one and they did so with nary a hint of BS in between. They’re just gigantic bruisers of songs that, yes, don’t really push on many boundaries, but if you need something to smash rocks to then a song like “Asmodeus” is a perfect fit.
Via Aeterna plays it pretty close to the formula set by those three, and each track stays in the ballpark of a four-minute range, just full of one chugging riff after another. It isn’t until the title track when Hurakan stretch their wings. They give themselves seven minutes to do so and as a result wind up writing a mostly instrumental symphonic deathcore epic. If you had been sitting through Via Aeterna and at each stomping moment were wondering what it would sound like if the group added to the mix what sounds like a string section being sawed in half, then “Via Aeterna” would like to introduce itself on the way out of the album. Hurakan even call in reinforcements from their drummer’s Psygnosis bandmate for cello contributions during the closing.
Which brings us back to where Hurakan may be looking these days with Via Aeterna. You get the sense early on that they aren’t completely letting go of their more brutal-death roots on this album but definitely want to get into the currently whirling maelstrom of brutal death, slam, and deathcore bands that seem to all be congealing into one gigantic mass. It’s still just as rock stupid as you might imagine, just of a different variety.
Hurakan chose a blueprint to follow on Via Aeterna and then executed upon it with frightening accuracy. You could put Via Aeterna up against much of the current scene – especially those groups that it seems Unique Leader are attracting at the moment – and they would fit right in. You can see how Lacerated Enemy picked this one up, as they too have also been making inroads on this style.
This is purpose-built music though. It’s heavy because it exists to be heavy. It’s written to be as heavy as it can possibly be, if your metric for heavy is just how many moving instruments and gigantic chugging riffs a band can fit into an album. If you have a taste for the burly breakdown style that has been bubbling to the surface over the past few years, Via Aeterna should fit in well on your menu.